Friday, August 8, 2014

White-Backed Vulture

National Audubon Society's Field Guide to African Wildlife calls the white-backed vulture "Africa's most common vulture." However, recent assessments have moved its status from least concern, to near threatened to endangered in 2012 and now critically endangered in 2013. 
White-backed vulture at a wildebeest carcass in Serengeti NP. Black face and bill and white back help identify it. I originally thought it was a lappett-faced vulture because of the red head, but the  red head is from blood from feeding on the wildebeest. Photo by Esmee Tooke.
White-backed vultures flying from a different carcass in the Serengeti. White back on the vulture in the middle and black bill on the vulture to the bottom right. 
The adult is pale brown with a white lower back and rump that can only be seen when flying or when its wings are spread on the ground. It has a black eye and bill, dark face and throat, but a pale crown and hindneck covered with white down. It has a pale ruff of feathers at the base of its neck. 
White-backed vulture. Photo by Jack Duckworth.
White-backed vulture is to the back-right. A Ruppell's Griffon vulture is to the front-left. Photo by Michael Lewin. 
Carcasses can have 200 of these vultures, or up to 1,000 at an elephant carcass. They will fight ferociously among each other for shares and those that are not aggressive may die of starvation. 
Photo by John Mirau. 

Nest of white-backed vulture in the Lerai Forest in Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. 
It is found from Senegal, in West Africa, east to the southern Red Sea, south through East Africa to Namibia and Natal. 

1 comment:

  1. A thousand on an elephant carcass? That must be an unbelievable sight!